Most people who seek treatment for depression are prescribed drugs like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, or Lexapro, and attend regular therapy sessions.
For those with severe depression, there’s also the option of going to a depression rehab center. Here, patients work on their coping skills and managing depression spirals, often through cognitive-behavioral therapy.
For alcoholics, depression and alcoholism are often intertwined. They work together in a negative feedback loop, with drinking fueling depression, and vice versa.
Treating Depression and Alcoholism TogetherA study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry in 2010 showed that a treatment program which combined the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication for treating both alcoholism and depression simultaneously was more successful than simply treating the alcohol dependence alone.
In this study, researchers found that the patients who received treatment using the antidepressant drug Zoloft alongside treatment for their alcoholism had a 54% abstinence rate, while those given a placebo antidepressant (thus only receiving the alcohol dependence treatment), and those only given the anti-depressants without the alcohol dependence treatment, only had abstinence rates of 21-28%. Additionally, those receiving the dual treatment had a significantly longer median time to relapse – 61 days versus 15 days for the control groups.
In addition to the anti-depressants and alcohol dependence treatment, the 170 study subjects also received cognitive behavioral therapy for their depression, and the treatment groups all showed significant reduction in symptoms of depression at the end of the study.
This seems to offer clear evidence supporting the importance of seeking treatment for depression, yet most alcoholics who are depressed see the depression as a symptom of the alcoholism, rather than as an additional disorder that needs to be addressed as well. Many sufferers of depression don’t view their depression as a mental health disorder that requires treatment – but that’s really what it is. When depression is co-mingled with substance abuse, treating just one of them is much less effective than addressing both disorders at once.
I can’t say I have any personal experience with this type of dual diagnostic treatment for those suffering from depression and substance abuse, but the studies I’ve read look promising. If you’re struggling with alcoholism and severe depression, going to rehab for depression and alcoholism together might be a good option.
Have you been to rehab for depression? Does it sound like a good idea to you? Let me know in the comments.